Biryani is an exotic dish from the Royal Kitchens of India. It is a beautifully complex dish that layers fragrant rice with moist meat curry (in this case chicken) topped with caramelized onions and toasted nuts. Traditionally the layered dish is sealed with dough to keep it moist while baking. Then the baked dough cover is opened at the table for a theatrical finish. In this recipe we use aluminum foil as the cover which is a little less time consuming.
It is a recipe that looks complicated but keep in mind that it is essentially 2 dishes in one (rice and meat) and the finished product is well worth the effort. The whole recipe can easily be prepped the day before and baked just before serving.
Ingredients for Chicken
1 kg Chicken pieces (bone-in, skinless)
1 Onion diced (medium)
2 tbsp Garlic paste or finely grated
2 tbsp Ginger paste or finely grated
2 tbsp Tomato paste
¾ cup Plain Yogurt
3 tbsp Jaswant’s Kitchen Tadka Masala
4 tbsp Oil
¼ tsp Nutmeg grated or ground
¼ tsp Mace powder
1 Dry red Serrano chili crushed (recommended for more heat)
1 tsp Salt (or to taste)
Whole Spices (see below)
Whole spices for Chicken (available for purchase in our online store)
Ingredients for Rice
Chicken: Marinate the pieces of chicken with Jaswant’s Kitchen Tadka Masala, 2 Tbsp oil and ginger for at least 2 hrs (overnight if you have time for best results).
Heat pot on medium high heat and add the remaining 2 tbsp oil or ghee and fry the whole spices until fragrant (1 minute or less). Add garlic and fry another minute before adding the onion. Cook for 2 minutes until onions become translucent. Add the marinated chicken and brown on all sides for 4-5 minutes. Add yogurt, tomato paste, mace, salt and nutmeg. Stir to mix and add ¾ cup hot water. When the mixture starts to simmer, cover and let cook for 15 minutes on med low. Cool and keep aside.
Rice: Wash the rice in cold water and drain. Soak the rice in 5 cups of water for 30 minutes. Then strain and reserve the soaking water.
Heat pot on medium high heat, add oil and fry whole spices until fragrant. Add rice and stir for 2 minutes to coat with oil then add reserved water and salt. When it starts to boil, lower the heat to med-low, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for 8 min or until water is absorbed. Note: We are cooking the rice for a shorter period of time than normally required because it will be cooked again at the end once layered. Cool the rice quickly by spreading it in a large shallow dish and tossing gently.
Preparing the toppings
Assembly of Biryani
Preheat oven to 350F if serving the same day (otherwise you can do the final baking the following day. Once chicken and rice has cooled, choose a casserole dish or any ovenproof dish that has a tight fitting lid. Alternately, aluminum foil can be used to seal the contents after assembly.
Spread most of the sauce from the chicken curry as the base. Layer half of the rice on top of the sauce. Sprinkle half of the following toppings -mint, cilantro, almonds & onions. Sprinkle the yogurt mixture all over with spoon in different spots. Next, layer all the chicken pieces with any remaining gravy. Top with the remainder of the rice and sprinkle the rest of the almonds, onions and chopped coriander. Drizzle the saffron milk in some spots and lemon juice all over the top layer. Cover tightly with aluminum foil making sure that the ends are sealed well to keep the moisture in and bake for 30 minutes. Serve with Raita and your favourite salad.
For a stress free meal, make all the components (chicken, rice and toppings) and also assemble Biryani the day before and refrigerate. Bake just before serving.